If the witch was made wary by what had happened – had almost happened – we became even more wary. We took fewer paths and fewer doors, both to conserve what we had, like last rations, but also because we were unsure of what the witch would do next. In the past, we had run from her, we had tricked her, but now, we had tried to kill her.
The following night, we stayed to the in-between rooms. Stitch Mouth kept at least two pieces of chalk pinched between her knuckles to ensure we had our best options readily available. And we spent the night in silence. In part, to be ready, and also because none of us had much to say. I had already apologized enough times to earn a sharp no more, Sarah! from Balloon Girl, and this time, Stitch Mouth didn’t intervene. I wanted to apologize every time I took a breath. But what would that have done? When it came the other people who were at the house that night, we simply didn’t bring it up, because no one had an answer.
Traveling along like weary sojourners, we turned at the corner of an in-between room and stopped. The witch stood at the other end, blackened by shadows. Her head was tilted just slightly, almost at the ceiling. Her arms hung at her side. We stood at opposing ends of the hall, silhouetted in a darkened standoff. We were held there by the peculiar way the witch waited. No one moved. Then the witch bent her way through the door she had entered and shut the door.